Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Anti-Liturgical Heresy

Dom Prosper Gueranger O.S.B. was a great 19th century reformer of the liturgy. I present below some of his thoughts on what he termed the "anti-liturgical heresy". On the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, this is extremely relevant, especially when we compare what we have in most Novus Ordo parishes and what was written in the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium. There are many uncomfortable truths that we cannot turn away from.

The Anti-Liturgical Heresy
By Dom Prosper Guéranger, O.S.B.


The first characteristic of the anti-liturgical heresy is hatred of tradition as found in the formulas used in divine worship. One cannot fail to note this special characteristic in all heretics, from Vigilantus to Calvin, and the reason for it is easy to explain.

Every sectarian who wishes to introduce a new doctrine finds himself, unfailingly, face to face with the Liturgy, which is Tradition at its strongest and best, and he cannot rest until he has silenced this voice, until he has torn up these pages which recall the faith of past centuries.

As a matter of fact, how could Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism establish themselves and maintain their influence over the masses? All they had to do was substitute new books and new formulas in place of the ancient books and formulas, and their work was done. There was nothing that still bothered the new teachers; they could just go on preaching as they wished: the faith of the people was henceforth without defense.

Luther understood this doctrine with a shrewdness worthy of the Jansenists, since he, at the beginning of his innovations, at the time he still felt he should maintain a part of the external form of the Latin cult, gave the following rule for the reformed Mass:

“We approve and preserve the Introits of Sundays and of the feasts of Our Lord, that is to say Easter, Pentecost and Christmas. We should much prefer that the entire Psalms from the Introits should be taken, as was done in former times; but we will gladly conform to the present usage. We do not blame even those who would wish to keep even the Introits of the Apostles, of the Blessed Virgin and other Saints, since these three Introits are taken from the psalms and other places in Scripture.”

He hated too much the sacred songs composed by the Church herself as the public expression for her faith. He felt too much in them the vigor of Tradition, which he wanted to ban. If he granted to the Church the right to mix her voice with the oracles of the Scripture in the holy assemblies, he would expose himself thereby to have to listen to millions of mouth anathematizing his new dogmas. Therefore, his hatred for everything in Liturgy which does not exclusively derive from Holy Scripture.


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